As I stated in a recent OTF, Lorenzo Da Ponte and Wolfgang Mozart collaborated on three operas: Don Gioovanni, Le Nozze di Figaro and Cosi fan tutte. Today’s post completes the trilogy (started a coupole of years ago) with the last of the three.

As we have pointed out in these pages in the past, plot devices are many in opera, and one popular plot device that has been used to great effect is to assume another identity. There are plenty of examples in both operas seria and buffa – Leonora passes herself off as the prison gopher Fidelio, Don Carlo di Vargas passes himself as Pereda in order to hunt the Marquis of Calatrava’s killer in La Forza del Destino, many protagonists assume bogus identities in the Figaro operas, and we could go on with many more popular and obscure examples.

The crux of today’s opera has to do with trust and fidelity, and a bit of entrapment, and sets the stage for some pretty zany situations (at least, in 18th century operatic terms…)

If I had a hot girlfriend, and was asked to leave her behind for days and weeks on end as I get deployed with the Neapolitan Army, wouldn’t I be a little paranoid too?

They say “absence makes the heart grow fonder”, but does it? Maybe it provides an opportunity for another man to whisk her away… That seems to be Don Alfonso’s hypothesis, and he convinces his two paranoid buddies Ferrando and Guglielmo into posing as a pair of lotharios, all to test the Don’s theory that all women are fickle and patently unfaithful.

Without wanting to spoil things for listeners, I must remind that this is a comic opera after all and that Mozart and Da Ponte will provide a happy resolution to the proceedings.

Sir Charles Mackerras's high accomplishment as a conductor of Mozart's operas has been thinly represented in the record catalogue, which makes this stylish, unaffected and attractively lively version of Cosi fan tutte particularly welcome. It is not, of course, a period-instrument version, but it does show, in its clean textures, its crisp articulation and its (generally) quickish tempos, not to mention its appoggiaturas, a very keen sense of period style, and one, too, with a strong feeling for the work's theatrical qualities.
-- Stanley Sadie, Gramophone

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Così fan tutte, K.588
opera buffain 2 acts, Italian libretto by Lorenzo Da Ponte

Felicity Lott, Fiordiligi
Marie McLaughlin, Dorabella
Nuccia Focile, Despina
F Jerry Hadley, Ferrando
Alessandro Corbelli, Guglielmo
Gilles Cachemaille, Don Alfonso

Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Edinburgh Festival Chorus
Conductor: Sir Charles Mackerras
Venue: Usher Hall, Edinburgh, Scotland 08/1993

Synopsis -
Libretto -
Performance URL -

As I have done before, this performance is edited from one of Sean Bianco’s fine At The Opera podcasts, and I have included his spoken introductions.